Don’t Tell Anyone, But I Actually Like Browser War II

Browser War II
And this image might be already outdated…

There was a time, long, long ago that being a web developer meant you always had to build two versions of your website. There was a version for Internet Explorer, and there was a version for Netscape Navigator. It was still pre Windows XP that obliterated Netscape’s reign on the browser market when they Mozilla was not fast enough by delivering a new browser version and let Internet Explorer take over the market.

I always liked developing for Internet Explorer, because it was easier. I admit it. But, that didn’t meant that sites only meant do be running on IE, another version needed to be made for Netscape Navigator. Of course, this was not necessary, but if you wanted to achieve some precision in design and you worked in a business that would not yet work on DHTML, your layout of a website was completely done by writing and measuring out every bit in pixels on your screen. Nested tables galore! That would not have been a problem, were it not that IE and Netscape were usually one pixel off in their placement. And one pixel, for someone working in design, can be a make-it or break-it.

I really disliked that part of my work. So when IE took the majority of the browser-market, it was sort of relief. I have to admit, the tolerance the browser has for error is a curse disguised as a blessing. To make sure that everything was actually written correctly, we pulled up the Opera browser, because – as it was known – it was the browser that would render HTML most accurately.  But in the end, who cares about correct writing if suddenly 95% of all the users use one browser. You just work with those standards.

When Flash was the major plug-in for all the browsers, and there was just one real player in the browser market, web development became nice. Because now, you could really focus on building innovative things.

I do like the diversity in choice of deciding what browser you like to work with from a user’s point of view. I use mostly Chrome these days, but still use Internet Explorer a lot. And on mobile I think it really shines even. But on my desktop, Chrome is my default choice. That might change in the future, as it has in the past.

But from a developer’s standpoint, front-end development has been worse than in the late ’90s and early 2000’s. The browser was is back, and came back with a vengeance. Argh! Not only that, but the developments have been coming a long way; JavaScript, jQuery, HTML5, CSS3 and whatever you want to slam against it as well. And I do notice that finally, it is all coming together. With jQuery and CSS3 it is pretty easy to finally build one solid site. But now, you have the different platforms. As if different browsers on a simple desktop was not enough, now you have a range of browsers on a range of platforms and resolutions.

Well, it makes sure that there is enough work for us developers I guess. That counts for something.

Now, working on my own company’s productions is a blast. I can set the requirements, and if you decide to surf to our productions in IE7, or on WindowsXP, well, tough luck. I am not someone who says that you have to support everyone. You may set some requirements to what people should be able to do to make them work with certain productions. You don’t always have to support outdated technologies in my opinion. But, that differs per project. On a daily basis I work on projects that have to support IE7, WindowsXP, even the never updated version of Safari for PC in a rare occasion. Especially if you work for the government, or that a project owner is still clung to it’s XP computer because in their eyes it is so much superior (Wake up!), you cannot bite the hand that feeds you.

But then, that is why we are in the business, isn’t it? It actually gives us enough play and wiggle-room to really experiment with technology. So, I guess, even though I love to complain about the new browser war that is reigning, actually, secretly I enjoy it. But don’t tell anyone. It makes the job much more a challenge 😉

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